We are in the early stages of an exciting ministry journey at the church where I serve. God has been leading us to begin taking steps toward planting a church in our region. And that is where we are: the beginning. I have challenged our congregation to join me in praying for God to show us the community where He wants us to begin.
As exciting as beginning a new work is to talk about (What is more exciting than having a baby?), there is another emotion that some are struggling with: fear. When I first laid out some steps that may come down the road, I mentioned the possibility of recruiting 15-20 church members to commit to helping in the new work for six months. As a second-generation church planter, this seemed logical, natural, even understood. But for many, it struck a nerve.
The main question that began to surface went something like this: “If we lose 15-20 people, won’t that hurt our church?” If our point is to grow as a church, it would seem like we would be taking a step backward, and losing some dedicated workers (which are greatly needed!). How can giving people away be a positive thing?
This fear is nothing new. I remember talking to a veteran pastor whom I greatly respect and admire. He told me that in his early years of ministry he would continually challenge people to surrender to full-time ministry. But when a handful of his most faithful families all decided to move away for Bible college, it left a large void in the congregation, and he stopped challenging people like he used to. This is a real fear.
This is why it is imperative that we stand on biblical principles, and allow God’s promises to strengthen our faith and overcome our fear. Most fundamental Christians fully understand what the Bible teaches about giving. But we forget that the same holds true, whether we are talking about giving money or giving people. Think about it:
“Give, and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall men give into your bosom” (Luke 6:38).
“It is more blessed to give than to receive” (Acts 20:35).
“Honour the LORD with thy substance, and with the firstfruits of all thine increase: so shall thy barns be filled with plenty, and thy presses shall burst out with new wine” (Proverbs 3:9-10).
“But this I say, He which soweth sparingly shall reap also sparingly; and he which soweth bountifully shall reap also bountifully. Every man according as he purposeth in his heart, so let him give; not grudgingly, or of necessity: for God loveth a cheerful giver. And God is able to make all grace abound toward you; that ye, always having all sufficiency in all things, may abound to every good work” (II Corinthians 9:6-8).
“I have all, and abound: I am full, having received of Epaphroditus the things which were sent from you, an odour of a sweet smell, a sacrifice acceptable, wellpleasing to God. But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:18-19).
God blesses when His people give of their resources to further the Great Commission, to build the Kingdom of God, and to reproduce New Testament local churches. When we give money by faith, God meets the need and blesses in abundance. When we give people by faith, God also meets the need and will bless in abundance. In fact, churches that give people in church planting and ministry experience excitement, momentum, and growth that never existed before.
The hope of the world lies in God’s people getting serious about the Great Commission: churches planting churches until Jesus comes. Let us not be paralyzed by fear, but driven by faith.